So – I decided one day I wanted to get into foam costume building, since I’ve seen some of the amazing things people have created from foam! PLUS, looking at the average cost to have someone cast the parts for an Iron Man suit – in plastic resin – is $3,000-5,000, hahahahaha I don’t think so! All kinds of skilled cosplayers have put together amazing foam builds, from Mass Effect to Skyrim to Iron Man HULKBUSTER armor. It’s really the best way to go when you want to put together some great-looking armor at a lower cost.
Want to jump down to the armor build? Click here.
Sounds like it’s time to learn how to work with EVA foam. My end goal is to be able to create an Iron Man Mark 43 suit from foam and keep it under $500 for the build. Since I’ve never created a thing from foam, I need to practice! And what better way to practice than to build an EVA Foam Batman Armor suit from Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice?
The “DOJ” Batman armor from the movie was pulled straight out of the comics, and Batfleck did look pretty cool in it. The suit is practically made for foam, since it’s nice and bulky, has hard, straight lines, and weathering that will nicely cover up any of my mistakes!
In order to begin a new project you know nothing about – whether it’s home remodeling DIY or Superhero DIY (see what I did there?) – the best thing to do first is research. So, I headed to YouTube, searching for EVA foam building or even EVA foam Batman armor. I found all kinds of great foam building tutorials ranging from how to use Pepakura Designer to how to glue with contact cement. Really useful stuff that I am currently trying to memorize. Here are a few of my favorite foambuilders – I highly recommend you check out their stuff:
The next step was to gather all the stuff I needed to build out my EVA foam Batman armor! Several of the videos referenced some key items, starting with EVA foam, of course. That made it particularly easy to find everything I needed! Specifically, check out Evil Ted’s video where he lists all the best tools of the trade.
After collecting all my materials, I got started. I purchased the Pepakura files (pattern) that I needed from AZTLAN, scaled the torso down to my size, and printed the pieces out on cardstock.
TIP: make sure you don’t waste time printing/cutting out pieces you won’t need!
A foam build is WAY different than a paper (Pepakura) build – so you don’t need to cut out the “edges” of each piece. For instance, I printed out 27 pages of pattern just for the torso alone, and it took about 4 hours to cut out each piece. In reality, I probably only needed 15-20 pages and about 3/4 of those pieces.
I then started cutting out the foam by transferring the pattern onto foam using one of my son’s Crayola markers – hey it was there!
TIP: make sure your knife is super sharp!
If you need to snap off a new piece each time or sharpen the knife before each cut, do it. It makes a HUGE difference with how clean your cuts are, and that translates into cleaner-looking armor, seams, and less sanding time.
I could not wait to start putting pieces together! Things started to take shape once I began lining pieces up and applying glue to each piece, waiting for it to dry a bit, then pushing each piece together. I found that it was taking forever to apply the glue since I was using a tiny little applicator and I had to screw the cap on each time I was done. Bleh.
Tip: Get yourself a glue pot!
Finally, I broke down and spent the $50 to get this glue pot. It makes a huge difference when applying glue. You just grab the brush, slather the glue on, and put it back! It holds a ton of glue, keeps it fresh, and makes it easy to cover ground (foam). I did find, and like Evil Ted says in one of his videos, that less glue is better..
Tip: Less glue is better, and full coverage is key.
After you kind of “slather” on the glue on your edge, take a scrap piece of foam and run it along that edge. Make sure to pick up the excess glue as well as ensure the whole edge is covered. This will make certain that all your seams stay securely glued and there are no gaps.
The next step was to start putting together the torso, working on the pecs, shoulders, and back. It was coming together nicely, although it did take some time! Each piece seemed to need some kind of curve added to it which meant firing up the heat gun. There’s a learning … curve … there for sure! But it was really coming together.
The abs cutting and assembly took me about four hours – those were a bit difficult!
I then attached the abs to the rest of the torso, and sanded down the seams. I then added some Kwik Seal to fill in the seams, and let it dry. The easiest way to seal the armor, from what I found, was to use Mod Podge. Apparently just applying it with a foam brush is the best way to go, and that’s what I did.
Unfortunately for me, I decided that I had kind of tapered the space between the pecs and the abs instead of just letting it drop off. So, I cut the torso apart and did it again! It took some sanding and re-Mod-Podging, but it came back together well and looked better in my mind. If this is truly going to be the best EVA foam Batman armor, it had to be done right. Even if it’s NOT going to be, it still needed to be done right.
I would add a tip about how to get rid of brush lines when using Mod Podge, but I actually have no idea! After applying mine, I found all kinds of brush lines on my beautimous EVA foam Batman armor, and sanding with my newly-created sanding sticks wasn’t making it go away! Oh well, time to PlastiDip.
Wow! Looking great! BUT … oh crap. I forgot to add those detail lines on the pecs! I’m not really sure how I’m going to add those, especially since it would have actually looked good to do before the foam had any Mod Podge on it. Argh. I guess this is a tip …
Tip: Remember to add detail to the foam before sealing / painting it!
You know, like you see here:
If this armor is really going to be the best EVA foam Batman armor, I’ll need to make a few corrections. Just like with any project, many hours will be spent on research. And last night I started cutting out the pieces for the shoulders, which look difficult in their own right! They have a really really curved top piece, and a lot of small interlocking pieces. Hopefully they’ll come out right the first time, but we’ll see how it goes!
Have you ever attempted a foam build? What have you made? Share with us (and pics) in the comments!